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Grants:PEG/User:DrMel/Wiki Edit-a-thon Work Parties/Report

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Report accepted
This report for a Project and Event grant approved in FY Pending has been reviewed and accepted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
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Project status

Did you comply with the requirements specified by WMF in the grant agreement?

YES - though the learning curves for how to work with WMF grants and community members have been very steep.

Is your project completed?

YES - technically we completed these activities in April 2016. The complexities of our WikiSoCal work since then have made submitting this report far more difficult than was expected. After many hours, drafts, reviews and revisions, we are happy to finally have this report submitted.


The initial purpose of this page is to report on the $750 PEG 2016 grant we received from the Wikimedia Foundation to support 3 public editathons held in San Diego libraries in the Spring of 2016. The editathons were very successful, and led to the formation of WikiSoCal, a new user group based in San Diego, supported by local GLAM partners, organizations and other individuals from around the world. In October of 2016, we are very happy to have helped create and host the first WikiConference North America.

After a complex learning curve, WikiSoCal is now able to support wiki-related outreach and community building events every month in San Diego and Southern California. We have inclusivity as one of our most core values. We invite and welcome Everyone to join us, regardless of age, ability, orientation and cultural background. To join our group and be notified of new events, we invite everyone to signup at www.meetup.com/wikisocal. If you are reading this, please join and share the link with anyone you think might be interested.

Activities and lessons learned




In April 2016, after receiving the $750 from this PEG grant and completing the first 3 editathons, we were invited by leadership from Wikimedia's NY chapter to join a group of Wikipedians in Residence and other volunteers who were operating User Groups and Wikimedia Chapters in other parts of the US and the world.

During our first WALRUS conference call on April 28, 2016, DrMel agreed to help try to host the 2016 WikiConference here in San Diego when the Cascadia User Group had to cancel their plans for the events in Seattle. Past WikiConference organizers committed to help with planning and fundraising while DrMel began focusing all her waking hours on outreach, building the WikiSoCal community, and putting all the pieces together to host 4 days of events, in less than five months. While she did not expect salaried compensation, she had been given reason to believe that the new conference proposal she was helping develop would include funding for our local planning and program expenses.

DrMel has acted as our first San Diego "Wikipedian in Residence," facilitating all our San Diego events to date.

Her 2016 Wiki-related work in 2016 included: - Facilitation and management of monthly San Diego editathons (ongoing since February 2016) - Conference facilitation and management for WikiConference North America 2016 - Extensive communications with Wikipedia volunteers, staff and supporters to complete Needs Analysis - Survey research of past WikiCon and other wikievent participants - Venue research, selection and negotiation with San Diego Library and Balboa Park - Library venue secured at $0 cost to WMF, with an InKind donation by the library of more than $26,000 - Housing research, selection, negotiation and discount agreements with HIUSA Hostel & Hotel Indigo - Project management, reporting and grantwriting - Participation in extensive research and planning meetings,calls and online communications - Program plan for WikiCon preconference and conference events in San Diego, October 7-10, 2016 - Academic track planning of sessions and call for participation - Swag materials research and design - Strategic planning for expanding Wiki activity and participation in San Diego and SoCal region - Volunteer, Event Organizers & Speaker recruitment and management - One week long trip to Wikimedia DC for 5 days of training on WikiMedia’s GLAM and Diversity Work - Communications and conference calls with newly formed WikiConference Organizing Team (formed in the last week of June) - Handoff of work in progress to newly formed team & availability for ongoing event facilitation - Professional response times and full time availability

DrMel has been a Wikipedian volunteer recruiter, trainer and fundraiser since 2004, and a professional community organizer and event planner for more than 20 years. Prior to 2016, she had already raised more than $80,000 in ongoing donations to WMF from fellow philanthropists, and had helped recruit and teach hundreds of people how to help improve Wikipedia. She has received no meaningful acknowledgement of her past work, yet continues to invest hundreds of hours at her own expense because she believes the wiki movement is one of the most important human endeavors in the history of mankind.

In her work as community and event organizer in San Diego, DrMel has served as our first "Wikipedian in Residence" at her own expense. No additional funding for WikiSoCal-related expenses has yet been provided by any of Wiki-related organizations. All expenses since the 3rd editathon have been covered by San Diego's partner organizations, including QoL Experiments, San Diego Libraries, and multiple GLAM partners from Balboa Park. As of December 31, 2016, pro bono services and in kind donations we and the other organizations in San Diego have provided exceeds $75,000 in donation value. DrMel has taken on debt to cover our activities, but no longer hopes to see any reimbursements for past expenses.

How did we get here?

Beginning in April 2016, DrMel was mistakenly led to believe that the WMF staff and more experienced Wikipedians wanting the national events in San Diego would support continuing to grow WikiSoCal, helping to bring in more people and funds to support our outreach activities. We had been encouraged last Spring to apply for an IEG grant to extend WikiSoCal work, and worked hard to draft the new proposal (add link), but we were not advised as to how to complete the application successfully. While we received a great deal of advice in May and June of 2016 from Wikipedians in Residence, volunteers and, occasionally, WMF staff, all support for WikiSoCal disappeared after WikiMania 2016, where WikiConference planning meetings were held in Italy held without anyone from San Diego present.

A few days after WikiMania, DrMel was informed that the WMF grant coordinator responsible for conference grants had made verbal commitments to quickly approve a grant for conference expenses, provided the conference proposal could be completed in less than a week after WikiMania. Although DrMel's name was originally associated with the new grant application, it was quickly made clear we no longer had any influence on how the $50K budget would be allocated, how the events would be designed, and how we could grow WikiSoCal. All previous commitments from other Wikipedians to help with the supplemental fundraising needed to support local costs disappeared and requests for help of any kind were almost completely ignored. DrMel was unable to continue providing fulltime support for conference planning as she had to go look for paid work somewhere else. All remaining 2016 WikiSoCal community building events and activities had to be cancelled.

Even as DrMel came to understand in July that there would be no help with fundraising for WikiSoCal, and that almost all of our professional conference planning and partner agreements would be ignored, she continued to support the conference organizers. She provided all the research and reports we had previously completed, per requests from WMF staff and other inner circle Wikipedians. She provided introductions to all San Diego contacts, but was removed from ongoing communications, not cc'd on emails to our local GLAM partners. She was removed from the Google planning document she'd helped create. She was told she was not allowed to contact anyone at WMF, not allowed to change her title from Conference Organizer to Conference Facilitator, or to even create business cards for the ongoing outreach she had intended to do during her volunteer time. Even as we were being completed alienated by the activities and choices being made by the new conference organizers (in a conference with a theme of "Inclusivity"), we continued to support the basic goals of having the conference in San Diego rather than letting it die - supporting the wiki movement mattered more than the painful frustrations and losses we were going through.

Even more quickly than the WikiSoCal momentum had grown in 2016, it was collapsed by the apparent lack of interest by other Wikipedians in supporting WikiSoCal in any way. We had no help in trying to address our struggles, as all the senior Wikipedians we had recruited to help with conference planning choose to ignore our plans, requests and offers to continue being part of the event planning. Some of our most incredible volunteers have quit in disgust, and the people representing our local and international partners went experienced a lot of frustration and disillusionment.


We want to publicly acknowledge and praise all the members of WikiConference North America organizing committee for doing spectacular work to pull together the conference they wanted in the 3 months remaining after they took over. We also want to acknowledge all the previous volunteers and staff who gave their time and energies to making the conference possible.

While we were disappointed that no one from WikiSoCal was recognized for any of the work we had done, or invited to be part of the conference in any way, several of us choose to attend and enjoyed connecting with other attendees outside of the organizing committee. We were extremely happy to see Katherine Maher's keynote about the conference theme of inclusivity, inclusion of Spanish speakers and members of the disability community, and the attendance of over 300 participants. We are also very happy so many Wikipedians were able to come to San Diego to see our fantastic city and the incredible GLAM organizations we have here. We are delighted to know now that plans are moving forward with several organizations to host more events here, and look forward to working with whomever is organizing those events.

Following the WikiConference, we began to rebuild our activities and have hosted 3 additional meetups and many more WikiSoCal planning meetings. When we began planning for the 2016 WikiConference last April, we simultaneously began plans for our own 2017 WikiConSoCal, being held October 6-9, here in Balboa Park, this time with the theme of Resiliency.

All our efforts have not been wasted, and we've begun to rebuild our momentum, with new volunteers joining our community every month. As part of teaching new organizational partners and volunteers how to succeed in their efforts to improve Wikipedia and its related projects, we are working hard to help prepare them for the steep learning curves and frustrations that seem inherently part of being part of this wiki movement. Ironically, being alienated last year and learning even more since then has given us a clearer understanding of how we can best help with the causes we all care about so much.

So many of us have an intense commitment to the wiki movement, while having so many different ways of trying to help. We in WikiSoCal hope to reconnect with the WikiConference North America organizers soon, to reconcile and return to a state of Mutual Respect and Mutual Purpose. We want to help develop and support any of wiki-related events happening in SoCal. We have a tremendous number of resources available. Anyone reading this is welcome to contact DrMel or any other of our WikiSoCal volunteers at any time to discuss possibilities.

Lessons learned

What worked well?

Each editathon participant new to editing Wikipedia was very enthusiastic about being able to do so. It was easy to develop interest, and participants were very excited to have an opportunity to contribute to the collective body of human knowledge that wikipedia is such a big part of.

We found that many organizations within San Diego, especially GLAM and other nonprofits and schools, are very interested in being more active in the improvement of online wiki information.

It is now clear that there are many potential supporters within the community who can help with resources like in-kind donations and financial support, provided opportunities are created that show mutual purpose.

Initial efforts to build on editathon engagement to support hosting a WikiConference were met with a great deal of enthusiasm within the San Diego community. Especially promising were the relationships developed with various institutions in Balboa Park, and with the San Diego Public Library. The events and relationship building San Diego has been able to host over the past year have made a meaningful difference within the wiki communities.

Continuing to build WikiSoCal makes sense.

What didn't work?

Regarding the initial editathon project, there is very little that didn't work smoothly. This was a first-time effort in San Diego, and nothing goes perfectly the first time - at least when viewed retrospectively. Still, no major flaws in organization or execution have been identified.

However, as described above, there were many difficulties in working with WMF and experienced Wikipedians who were not invested in growing the new WikiSoCal group.

The learning curve for professional interaction with WMF proved to be quite steep and unpleasant. While all our previous experience with grant making organization have included relationship building with our funders, WMF staff were often unresponsive to our requests for information and guidance on the work we were doing to help support WMF's stated missions and grant making goals.

While outreach appears to be very important in many of the pages on Wikimedia.org, our attempts to focus on community outreach and new volunteer recruitment when we were involved in the planning of WikiConference North America were discouraged and dismissed. We had not previously understood how low volunteer retention is, and are still deeply confused as to how WMF has already allocated so much money to outreach activities which have resulted in so few ongoing volunteers.

Editing or otherwise volunteering to help in any way with Wikimedia Foundation's mission remains remarkably difficult. The learning curve is so steep and unwelcoming for new editors that we have stopped encouraging the people we meet to try editing wikipedia at all. Trying to "Be Bold" on Wikipedia often turns out to be a very confusing and alienating experience which we don't want our new volunteers to go through unless they are ready to face the systemic challenges. While the Wikipedia home page still says "The Free Encyclopedia that Anyone Can Edit," we do not believe this is at all accurate.

We are instead encouraging our volunteers to find other easier ways to help improve the wikis they care about. In our work to support the entire wiki movement, we are committed to helping engage and support more volunteers in experimenting with and finding the most enjoyable and satisfying wiki-related volunteer activities we can. We often point them first to the volunteer opportunities on WikiHow.com because it is so much easier to help improve WikiHow, especially from mobile devices. Although WikiHow is experimenting with a different business model than Wikimedia Foundation, their mission to create the world's best How To Guides is so complementary to Wikipedia's work that we have been stunned by the apparent lack of connection and collaboration between the organizations. Their volunteer programs, community management skills, and user interfaces (built on mediawiki) are all worth studying. And outreach to members of their communities seems like an obvious effort worth making, in spite of the apparent widespread distrust and avoidance of collaborations and partnerships with any other organizations.

We believe we should be building bridges, not reinforcing walls.

What would you do differently if you planned a similar project?

Now that we have gotten through 2016 and have been able to reflect on so many of the lessons learned, we are committed to working hard on WikiSoCal growth and activities throughout 2017. In spite of all the challenges, we have found many new advisors and volunteers excited to bring their unique skills and interests into our work, and are now working on project proposals that will give us the capacities we need to expand our inclusivity, reach and impacts, with innovative research-based program designs.

We welcome anyone reading this, and anyone you know, to be part of our planning and activities. Please join our group at www.meetup.com/WikiSoCal or contact one of our members to discuss possibilities.

Learning patterns


Unsure what answers are sought here. Please contact DrMel if discussion is needed.

Outcomes and impact



Provide the original project goal here.

Outreach and development of new volunteer community in San Diego and SoCal.

Did you achieve your project goal? How do you know your goal was achieved? Please answer in 1 - 2 short paragraphs.

YES. Each meet-up QoL-X arranged brought in new faces, and new account holders. Retention is a different problem but monthly meet-ups make it easier for new volunteers to get the support they need for getting through the learning curves, especially when there is a date in their calendars for returning to this cause. More than 50% of the local attendees and new users have been women. Through the WikiConference here in San Diego, more than 300 experienced Wikipedians have now seen the potential for ongoing meet-ups and trainings within San Diego and SoCal. Continued growth in community support for the Wiki movement in San Diego and SoCal is certain!

Progress towards targets and goals

Event outcomes for February - April 2016
27-Feb 26-Mar 23-Apr total
# of participants 7 9 5 21
# of female participants 5 6 3 -
# of return participants NA 5 5 -
# of new users 4 4 0 8
# of articles created or improved 6 9 5 20

Project metrics

Project metrics Target outcome Achieved outcome Explanation
(Effectively covered below.)

Global Metrics


We are trying to understand the overall outcomes of the work being funded across our grantees. In addition to the measures of success for your specific program (in above section), please use the table below to let us know how your project contributed to the Global Metrics. We know that not all projects will have results for each type of metric, so feel free to put "0" where necessary.

  1. Next to each required metric, list the actual outcome achieved through this project.
  2. Where necessary, explain the context behind your outcome. For example, if you were funded for an edit-a-thon which resulted in 0 new images, your explanation might be "This project focused solely on participation and articles written/improved, the goal was not to collect images."

For more information and a sample, see Global Metrics.

Metric Achieved outcome Explanation
1. # of active editors involved 10
2. # of new editors 8
3. # of individuals involved 49
4a. # of new images/media added to Wikimedia articles/pages (not tracked)
4b. # of new images/media uploaded to Wikimedia Commons (Optional) (not tracked)
5. # of articles added or improved on Wikimedia projects 20
6. Absolute value of bytes added to or deleted from Wikimedia projects (not tracked)
Learning question
Did your work increase the motivation of contributors, and how do you know?  : (See below.)



What impact did this project have on WMF's mission and the strategic priorities?

Option A: How did you increase participation in one or more Wikimedia projects?

Engaged more than 50 volunteers in our local events, prior to the WikiConference, including 3 editathons, with 8 attendees at the editathons entirely new to editing Wikipedia. In the course of WikiSoCal organization, developed an extensive network of local volunteers and institutional supporters.

Option B: How did you improve quality on one or more Wikimedia projects?

Twenty articles were improved/created. Regarding WikiSoCal, new relationships with Balboa Park and the San Diego Public Library were leveraged to great effect in the WikiSoCal conference.

Option C: How did you increase the reach (readership) of one or more Wikimedia projects?

(Effectively covered above, and elsewhere in this report.)

Reporting and documentation of expenditures


This section describes the grant's use of funds


Did you send documentation of all expenses paid with grant funds to grants at wikimedia dot org, according to the guidelines here? Answer "Yes" or "No".


Please list all project expenses in a table here, with descriptions and dates. Review the instructions here.
Number Category Item description Unit Number of units Actual cost per unit Actual total Budgeted total Currency Notes
1 Online Services Meetup.com subscription 6 months 1 59.94 59.94 USD Allows us to promote editathons to locals in San Diego and beyond
2 Online Services SurveyMonkey subscription 1 year 1 228 228 USD Allows us to collect participant responses during and after wiki editathons
3 Food & Beverages IHOP food meal 1 60 USD Pre-editing food for participants
4 Food & Beverages IHOP food meal 1 25.24 USD Planning meeting for D & M
5 Food & Beverages IHOP food meal 1 95.46 USD Pre-editing food for participants
1 Office Supplies Costco Laser Toner Cartridges 1 package 1 288.97 288.97 USD Print materials for marketing & participants
total 757.61 750
Total project budget (from your approved grant submission)
Total amount requested from WMF (from your approved grant submission, this total will be the same as the total project budget if PEG is your only funding source)
Total amount spent on this project
Total amount of Project and Event grant funds spent on this project
Are there additional sources that provided funding or other support for any part of this project? List them here.

Our team and partners incurred more than $95,000 in expenses which we have had to write off as InKind and Pro Bono, while not having originally agreed to do so. No consideration or reimbursement has yet been suggested as possible by any senior volunteer or WMF, although our work directly made possible a professionally managed event at the San Diego library. All parties who contributed have been inadequately considered, acknowledged or thanked. If this was not for Wikipedia and the wiki movement, none of us would still be trying to help.

Approximate breakdown of unreimbursed costs incurred here:

Quality of Life Enterprises, led by DrMel: approx $35,000 in pro bono services and in kind donations
San Diego Downtown Libraries : approx $35,000 in donated venue rental (lost revenue) and staff time
San Diego Balboa Park Organizations: approx $5,000 in museum admissions, tours and staff time
Dozens of expert advisors and other volunteers: approx $20,000 in pro bono services

Remaining funds

Are there any grant funds remaining?
Answer YES or NO.
Please list the total amount (specify currency) remaining here. (This is the amount you did not use, or the amount you still have after completing your grant.)
If funds are remaining they must be returned to WMF, reallocated to mission-aligned activities, or applied to another approved grant.
Please state here if you intend to return unused funds to WMF, submit a request for reallocation, or submit a new grant request, and then follow the instructions on your approved grant submission.
No unused funds. Thanks to encouragement from new friends and colleagues within the wiki movement, we intend to be part of new grant requests for continued development of WikiSoCal volunteer groups and related activities.